As the No. 17/18 Florida Gators prepare for their biggest road game of the 2011 season on Oct. 8 against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the team’s big upcoming contest.
DEFENSIVE LINE NEEDS TO STEP UP, BIG TIME
Considering Florida’s defensive line was supposed to be its strongest position on its unit, it was quite disappointing how ineffective it was this past weekend. A lot has been said recently about how physical Alabama was on both sides of the line of scrimmage, but Quinn said physicality had not previously been an issue for the Gators.
“I don’t think we weren’t a physical team leading up to that point. I wouldn’t say it has been a history of the whole season, in my opinion,” he said. “I’m looking forward to us hitting blocks and getting back to the style that we taught. That’s what I expect to see.”
Quinn said that is the line’s top priority heading into the LSU game. “The number one thing I’d say we addressed is we want to hit blocks. At times the tape showed we were catching but not shedding violently when we were hitting our guys,” he explained.
With the Tigers’ offensive line only having allowed three sacks all season long, Quinn realizes his first line of defense is up for another rough outing on Saturday. He explained Wednesday why LSU has been so successful in protecting their quarterback this year.
“It’s a combination of things,” he said. “Their offensive line is playing well. They also utilize their tight ends and their [running] backs involved in the protection. At times you’ll see some seven-man protections – usually that’s the five offensive linemen, the tight end and a back. Most teams are using six-man protections – the offensive line and maybe a back or tight end. They’re playing well as a unit; it’s an experienced bunch coming back.”
PLAYER THOUGHTS AND EVALUATIONS
Sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd (and if he will play inside more):
“Not this week there hasn’t been [any extra work]. Really the focus has been on us sharpening up our skills. There will be some times where he’ll play inside at tackle, but we’ve really been focusing him outside.”
Junior linebacker Jon Bostic (and the punch he threw Saturday): “He’s one of the guys we really count on for leadership for our team. For him to lose his composure was disappointing for us, knowing that he’s one that we’re really counting on in a leadership role for us. We talked to him about that and he understood that. I didn’t ask him specifically regarding that play. I would think it would be a culmination of things when you’re frustrated. He just lost his head and who he is and how to play. That won’t be part of our defense, that’s for sure.”
Redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (and his progression this year): “I’m pleased with the progress that Jaye is making. He didn’t play the spring, so as we went through training camp he kind of developed a role with us where he can play nose and defensive tackle. For me to keep seeing him keep improving like he is has been a real positive for us and for him too. I’m pleased with where he’s headed.”
The team’s quarterbacks: “All the guys, to me, are impressive at QB. That’s a spot on our team that we got some really talented guys. They all kind of jump out at you in different ways, and he’s certainly one that has to me. Although they’re different in their own ways, they’re all really talented.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On his unit’s performance against Alabama in the second half: “We did start off the second half. Kind of our message was: “Let’s settle down and go back to playing our style of football.” We kind of got back to playing our style where we can play physical, get our hands on people. I thought we did that for a time in the third period and then, as it wore on in the game, it kind of fell back to where we all weren’t on the same technique. […] I’d like to give [Alabama] credit. They out-physicaled us in the game. That’s hard to accept and swallow and that’s what happened. We addressed it and now we’re moving forward.”
» On how the team is responding to an injured player: “As a whole team, any time a guy steps down, it’s not necessarily just [on] one player. We kind of had that message early in the season. We had one of our defensive players down for two games. It was the same message. […] Going through that experience sends the message for when another guy is down, it does not fall on one player to get it done [in his place].”
» On the challenges of facing two different quarterbacks at once: “When you go through the offseason, you have the study of who the QBs are. You kind of make some notes and go through a mock game preparation. That was important at the start of the week knowing, ‘OK, this player is back into it.’ You really had to have a little bit of plan for both styles of player because they’re different. One is really mobile and wants to move and is running and one is not so much of that. I guess that would be the biggest challenge, knowing the different style of the quarterback in the game.”
» On how the defense can better create pressure: “It’s going to start with the whole defense. Sometimes when you’re max protected you can do some different things from a cover standpoint – they have less guys out. It’s the back-and-forth. If they’re going to keep more in than there is more you can adjust in your coverage.”
» On the secondary playing well against Alabama: “It was certainly hard for us to find a lot of silver linings for us in that performance for our defense. They didn’t have a lot of opportunities with the amount of carries they had. Certainly in some of the man-to-mans we denied the ball. […] Although we played poorly on third down, there were some things on the back end that we saw as positives.”